'Physically and mentally drained': Healthcare staff bemoan working conditions on Reddit as Covid-19 cases surge

PHOTO: The Straits Times file

The surge in Covid-19 cases – now in the thousands every day – has healthcare staff expressing discontent over working conditions in a Reddit thread with almost 250 comments.

Singapore's healthcare system is under tremendous pressure according to multi-ministry task force co-chair Lawrence Wong, as new restrictions are put in place to stabilise the situation and prevent avoidable deaths.

Citing tough working conditions, manpower crunch, and packed wards, the Reddit thread posted last Thursday (Sept 23) gives a behind-the-scenes look in hospitals dealing with the spike in numbers.

A few Redditors have voiced out that they are working long hours, even to the point of exhaustion. Redditor throwawayacct276 said that hospitals are all stretched thin taking care of patients.

"Healthcare workers are mentally and physically drained," Redditor throwawayacct276 added.

Meanwhile, Redditor repressednomoreok said that for their morning shift last Thursday, they faced a manpower crunch with four workers taking medical leave.

Sometimes, they would have to go back and work on their day off due to the lack of manpower – with some having their annual leave suspended. 

"We don't even have time to use the toilet or have proper meals," they said, adding that they still have to attend to patients while wearing the tight N95 mask and goggles. 

'Flooded with patients'

Also, the Reddit thread highlighted how wards and A&E departments are "flooded with patients" every day. 

"My hospital has had to open new Covid-19 wards every week to keep up with the case numbers, and there's only so many wards we can open before we start running out of manpower or compromising other services," user Xethrion said.  

Some of these concerns are highlighted by the Instagram account SG Healthcare Heroes, a safe space to honour healthcare workers in Singapore.

A post titled 5 Things Healthcare Workers Wished You Knew served as a reminder to the public on the challenges of working during the pandemic, and also amid this surge of Covid-19 cases. 

"Everyone in the industry is overwhelmed, not just the nurses and doctors. From medical technologists and patient services assistants to housekeepers, paramedics and ambulance drivers, we are all at our max capacity," said the post uploaded on Wednesday (Sept 29).

Despite being overwhelmed and tired, healthcare workers do care but they can't "get you that cup of Milo and extra pillows" because "we have so many patients and everything is time-sensitive."

"We seek your patience and understanding because we really are doing our best and going as fast as we can."

On Sept 22, visitors to hospital wards have been barred for a month with more cases detected among staff, patients, and visitors. Also, telemedicine providers are trying to cope with more people going into home recovery for Covid-19.

On Sept 29, Singapore saw a total of 2268 new Covid-19 cases and 8 seniors died from complications.

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